Rivers Are Damp

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Archive for the ‘Jay’ Category

Five Reasons I Don’t Like The Masters

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1.) The small field — The Masters is supposed to be one of the four great championship events of the year, yet the field is small.  It’s essentially an invitational event.  A championship is supposed to tell us who the “best” is.  What’s the best of an invitational field?  I dunno, but my tennis club does the same thing.  Why isn’t CBS there?  I’ll take the U.S. Open’s qualifying free-for-all any day.

2.) The tradition — Unlike Wimbledon, where the tradition is almost charming, it’s stultifying in Augusta.  And, yes, I’m saying there’s too much of the “wrong kind” of tradition.  Lee Trevino didn’t feel welcome there.  Lee Elder qualified for the tournament 15 years before the club had—in the 1990s!—its first African-American member.  There’s a good reason Martha Burk was protesting the event.  Yuck.

3.) CBS’s reverential coverage — As I understand it, the club mandates a certain tone in the coverage.  If I’m forced to choose between the raucous(?) Jack Whitakers and Gary McCords of the world and the unctuous, Masters-approved Jim Nantzes of the world, I’m going with the Whitakers and McCords every time.

4.) Larry Mize

5.) Exclusivity — I’m not welcome—as, ahem, a “patron”—at the tournament, and you’re not, either.  This is from the tourney’s website: Tournament or ‘Series’ Badges (Thursday through Sunday) have been sold to those on our patron list which was closed due to demand in 1972. A waiting list began in 1972, and was closed in 1978. It reopened in 2000, and it too is now closed. No applications for ‘Series’ Badges are currently being accepted.

Written by Jimmy

April 9th, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Posted in Jay,Sports

Two Poems About Fireflies

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I’m no poet, as you’ll soon see, but my last post—which mentioned the decline in firefly populations—caused me to remember a poem I’d written in grad school.  And when I finally located the old folder with my grad school-era poems, I found two poems mentioning fireflies.  (These were probably written in 1990 and 1991.)

Letter to My Sister

It is humid here, and hot.
At dusk, I sit on my balcony
to feel the occasional breeze.
I let my bare legs hang over the edge,
despite (my fear of) the height.

As it gets darker,
I bring out a Mexican beer or a Coke
to accompany the folk music
on my portable radio.

Every night, I sit
and await the shade of night
that best shows off the lightning bugs.

The fireflies make me think back
to Grandma Vera’s house,
where kin from far off would come
and gather near the front porch.
The kids from back east (or out west),
where there are apparently no lightning bugs,
would try to catch them in jars
to take back home.

Only now,
having moved a thousand miles from you
and often feeling very lonely,
do I really appreciate the lightning bugs.

They connect this place to home,
and to you.

Grief

From the balcony,
I realize there are
no more
fireflies.  There haven’t been
any
for weeks.
It is too hot.

In four weeks,
I will be moving away
from this place and
from this balcony.

I do not even know
where I’m going.

But I know
I will never
know the fireflies
this well
again.

© 2008 Rivers Are Damp

Written by Jimmy

September 14th, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Jay

Knoxville

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I’m the only Unitarian Universalist that many of my friends know.  So this past Sunday, when the news broke that a gunman had violently interrupted a UU service in Knoxville, Tennessee, some of my friends—some of you—thought of me.  No one was worried about my safety; everyone knew, after all, that I wasn’t in Tennessee.  But I served, I think, as a kind of conceptual bridge that caused, or allowed, the tragedy to hit a little closer to home.  “Jay could’ve been at that church,” you may have thought.  “Jay could’ve been at a church targeted by a madman.”

I had some of those thoughts, too.  Usually, when I hear about random violence—at a church or a school or a workplace—I don’t really envision myself as a potential victim.  But it’s not all that hard to imagine myself at church.  And, unfortunately, it’s not all that hard, anymore, to imagine that a church might be the target of violence.  But that can’t stop us, right?  Above all else, I’m a rationalist and a Humanist.  Despite what long-term exposure to CNN may suggest, violence does not actually pervade (most of) our everyday lives.  And I realize that society is—and must be—built on trust.  In my day-to-day life, I can and do trust that most of my neighbors mean me no harm.  I wouldn’t want to live any other way.

Anyway, if you thought about me, or reached out to me, this week, thank you.

All week, I put off writing anything about the incident in Knoxville, hoping, I guess, that I’d eventually be able to process it enough to be able to write something cogent.  That’s not going to happen, I realize.  The whole thing leaves me in a state of confusion.  The gunman himself apparently acted out of confusion.  He somehow came, it seems, to blame his personal problems on political liberals, yet he acted out against religious liberals.  He didn’t know that religious liberals, including UUs, aren’t necessarily political liberals.  He didn’t know that religious liberalism is simply a philosophy that embraces and venerates theological diversity.  But, of course, that’s irrelevant.  The gunman shouldn’t have been resorting to violence against anyone.  UUs don’t make sense as his victims, but no one else would, either.

John Bohstedt, one of the Knoxville congregants who helped to subdue the gunman,¹ said this: Hundreds of people have sent their condolences and love and support—and also confusion, which is perfectly appropriate.  It all helps.

I think Bohstedt got this exactly right.  The UU response to tragedy is love.  And we’re a practical people: We respond to tragedy by doing, by supporting one another and the world.  And, as Bohstedt said, the “perfectly appropriate” confusion helps, too.  It’s confusion, I think, that is often the path to the doing.  Even if I can’t make sense of something, I can reach out to my community—which may be just as confused as I am.  When I’m confused, I’m forced to go back to first principles: I’m forced to ask myself again what I believe in, and I’m forced to ask myself what I can do in support of these principles.

At the Service of Healing in Knoxville this week, Bill Sinkford, the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, said this:

I’ll bet many of you here have spent some time in confusion: What does this all mean?  I know it doesn’t make any sense, but what am I supposed to feel?  What am I supposed to feel when I see those images and hear those stories?  What is the good person supposed to feel and do?

I’ll bet all of those emotions and many more have been present for the persons who have gathered here.  And then we have the difficult question of how we respond to the person who created this havoc and this tragedy in our life.  How do we respond to the person?  I was asked by the reporter earlier today whether I thought the shooter would go to hell, and my response was that in my religious tradition, we would say that that person had been living in a hell here on earth, for years.

. . .

And we’re not going to stop, and you can’t stop it.  You can’t allow your fear or your confusion or your sorrow, or your anger—you can’t allow any of those emotions to keep you separated from what is central to your living, however you express it religiously.

See how Sinkford’s words take the listener from confusion to doing?  It’s that kind of thinking—that kind of approach to life—that makes me proud to be a UU.

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¹Like, among others, Sara at Orcinus and ChaliceChick of The Chaliceblog, I couldn’t be prouder of the way the Knoxville congregation subdued the gunman.  We UUs must find a special way to honor Greg McKendry, who died saving his fellow churchgoers.

Written by Jimmy

August 2nd, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Posted in Jay,Religion